BT will maintain ties with skills group if it drops Prince Andrew as patron

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s BT has told a company promoting digital skills it would continue working with it if it dropped Prince Andrew as a patron.

The British royal has been engulfed in a growing scandal since he gave a TV interview on Saturday to discuss his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in a U.S. prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Andrew denied an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by Epstein but said he did not regret the friendship. He has also been criticized for not showing compassion for his victims.

BT, one of Britain’s oldest companies and its largest broadband provider, said it was reviewing its relationship with iDEA, a programme that helps develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, is the company’s patron.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage.”

Several major companies have also sought to distance themselves from the British royal. Bank Standard Chartered said it would not renew its sponsorship of Andrew’s Pitch@Palace charity while AstraZeneca said its three-year partnership was under review.

In Britain, royal patronage is usually considered an honor and a boost for charities.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) – Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell where financier Jeffrey Epstein died as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges have been sent to an FBI crime lab for examination, a law enforcement source told Reuters.

Epstein’s lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan on Tuesday they had doubts about the New York City chief medical examiner’s conclusion that their client killed himself.

The two cameras were within view of the Manhattan jail cell where he was found dead on Aug. 10. A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.

He had been taken off suicide watch prior to his death.

The cameras were sent to Quantico, Virginia, site of a major FBI crime lab where agents and forensic scientists analyze evidence.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that at least one camera in the hallway outside Epstein’s cell had footage that was unusable. The newspaper said there was other usable footage captured in the area.

The U.S. Justice Department declined comment. The FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons did not respond to requests for comment. All are investigating his death. Lawyers for Epstein also did not respond to requests for comment.

Epstein, a wealthy 66-year-old money manager who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.

At Tuesday’s court hearing, 16 women said Epstein had sexually abused them, with some lamenting that his death deprived them of the opportunity to obtain justice.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in London; Writing by Nathan Layne; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)

U.S. attorney general shakes up prisons bureau after Epstein death

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr is pictured after a farewell ceremony for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced a new leadership team at the federal Bureau of Prisons in a shake-up of the agency in the wake of financier Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide inside a federal jail in New York City.

Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, a veteran of the Bureau of Prisons, will return to the agency to serve as its director, Barr said. He named another former agency official, Thomas Kane, to serve as her deputy.

The Bureau of Prisons has about 37,000 employees and oversees 122 facilities, which house about 180,000 inmates.

Hugh Hurwitz, who has been serving as the bureau’s acting director – including when Epstein was found unresponsive over a week ago in a Manhattan jail cell – has been reassigned to his prior position within the agency.

Epstein had been arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.

An autopsy report released on Friday concluded he committed suicide by hanging.

His death at the age of 66 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan triggered multiple investigations and had prompted Barr to criticize “serious irregularities” at the facility.

“During this critical juncture, I am confident Dr. Hawk Sawyer and Dr. Kane will lead BOP with the competence, skill, and resourcefulness they have embodied throughout their government careers,” Barr said in the statement.

Barr had previously ordered the reassignment of the warden at the MCC. Two corrections officers assigned to Epstein’s unit were placed on administrative leave pending investigations.

Lawyers for Epstein did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

His lawyers had said in a statement last week that they were “not satisfied” with the medical examiner’s conclusions and planned to carry out their own investigation, seeking prison videos taken around the time of his death.

Epstein had been on suicide watch at the jail but was taken off prior to his death, a source who was not authorized to speak on the matter previously told Reuters. Two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed, the source added.

Epstein, a registered sex offender who once socialized with U.S. President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state charges of unlawfully paying a teenage girl for sex and was sentenced to 13 months in a county jail, a deal widely criticized as too lenient.

Senator Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, has urged Barr to void the agreement and said “heads must roll” after Epstein’s death.

“This is a good start, but it’s not the end,” Sasse said of Barr’s announcement on Tuesday. “Jeffrey Epstein should still be in a padded cell and under constant surveillance, but the justice system has failed Epstein’s victims at every turn.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Dan Grebler and Steve Orlofsky)